Anesthesiology/ICU Experience


I wanted to start by thanking you for sharing your knowledge and expertise as a CRNA with those aspiring to work in the field.

My question is, what is the best way for a new nursing graduate to go about gaining employment in an ICU setting directly out of nursing school?  From the research I have done, this is an uncommon though not impossible task.  I understand exceptions can be made for hardworking, motivated new grads who gain ICU experience while in clinical rotations during their BSN programs. Unfortunately, the Accelerated BSN program I am in does not offer clinical rotations in the ICU nor do they recommend working while in school, so what alternatives would I have to gain this experience to make me marketable in the ICU setting directly out of school?  

I also understand that some hospitals recruit new nursing grads and place them in ICU training programs.  How does one go about finding out which hospitals are willing to hire new grads and what is the best way to prepare for employment in an ICU while still in nursing school?  In the event of little to no prior experience, do recommendations from nursing faculty help at all (that is assuming a new grad can even get an interview)?  

I am an older student and willing to invest the time needed in an ICU to gain the critical skills (I know you recommended a minimum of 3 years to another poster); however, I would like to be able to hit the ground running straight out of nursing school and minimize the length of time in gaining employment in the ICU setting.  I have spent time in ICU settings (though not in a professional capacity) and am aware of the intense nature of this workload.

Any insights you can provide would be most appreciated!

Hi Mani, thank you for the questions.  I will do my best to answer them.

The answers you are looking for really depend on a couple of factors, namely the program you're attending (and the contacts they have with respect to hospitals/clinical sites within that area), and the specific hospitals themselves, and what their wants/needs/hiring policies are.

Some new grads, in my experiences, have been able to obtain externships/internships with local critical care units.  Some were able to secure a job in an ICU directly out of school as well.  This is all really just department dependent.

My advice would be to check with your program/instructors, and see if they have any advice/contacts/etc.  If they don't, or aren't willing to do so, then my next suggestion would be to contact any human resource department within a hospital that you're interested in, and ask if they hire new grads into the ICU, or if there's a contact name/number to a nurse manager within the ICU department that you can inquire to.

Unfortunately, new grads getting jobs in the ICU right out of school are limited, and perhaps getting fewer and further between.

In any event, please let me know if I can provide any further information, and good luck with your journey!


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Dino Kattato MSNA CRNA


Former ICU/ER RN with several years of experience. I can answer questions relating to the CRNA education process, professional issues involved, as well as questions about adult and pediatric clinical anesthesia.


Level I regional Trauma center dealing with simple to complex patient populations of all ages. Experience with general anesthesia, spinal and epidural anesthesia, and total IV anesthesia for all surgical specialties including neuro, ortho, general surgery, vascular, electrophysiology, and VIR, with the exception of cardiac anesthesia. Ambulatory surgery center dealing mostly with ENT, plastics, and eyes (70%:30% peds:adults).


AANA Journal February 2010 Feb;78(1):24-7.


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